Excerpt from The Blind by A.F. Brady, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Blind

A Chilling Psychological Suspense

by A.F. Brady

The Blind by A.F. Brady X
The Blind by A.F. Brady
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  • Published:
    Sep 2017, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

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About this Book

Print Excerpt

October 18th, 9:40am

I'm kneeling on the floor in my office, tying the top of the garbage bag into a knot, and squeezing out the excess air as I do it. The maintenance guys always leave extra bags at the bottom of the garbage can, so I can replace this one with a fresh one, and just dump the tied-off bag into the bin. I find this is the most discrete way of hiding the rank stench of alcohol when I throw up in my garbage can. I want to believe that my tolerance is high enough that I never throw up, but the truth is, more often than not, I find myself on my knees in my office the morning after.

My name is Sam. I'm a psychologist, and I work in a mental institution. It's not like the ones you see in Rain Man or Girl, Interrupted. It's in Manhattan. It doesn't have sprawling grassy lawns, and manicured hedges. It doesn't have wide hallways and eleven-foot doors like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It smells like a combination of antiseptic and bubble gum because they added bubble gum scent to the antiseptic. The lights are fluorescent and the toilets are always broken. The elevator is the size of an airplane hangar and it's always full. I've been working here for six years and I've never been in this elevator alone. Someone pushes the alarm button every day.

The ceiling tiles on the unit have leak stains in the corners. All the doors are painted grey and have oval windows with chicken wire in the glass. Except the office doors. There are no windows on the office doors, and they're painted pale yellow. They all have paper signs on them saying things like "Lunch" and "In Session" and "Do Not Disturb". We have to make new ones pretty regularly because patients write stuff on the signs.

It always feels like once you walk through the front doors, the world gets smaller. It's impossible to hear outside sounds and even though I'm in the loudest city, I can't hear it in here. There's only one group room that faces the sun and that's where the plants are, but it's always dusty and no one likes to go in there.

We have a lot of different kinds of patients here, 106 of them. The youngest is sixteen and the oldest is ninety-three. The oldest used to be ninety-five, but he died a few months ago. There is one wing where the men live and another wing where the women live, and pretty much everybody lives in a room with a roommate. If a patient is violent or something, they can get a single room. Once patients find this out, they almost always become violent. What they don't realize it that a single room is just a double room with an accordion divider running through the middle, and when the room splits, someone loses a window. The institution is called The Typhlos Psychiatric Center and I've never asked why.

It feels fraudulent and silly and sometimes even comical, but I'm not any different from anyone else here. The clinicians are supposed to instill hope. We're supposed to take our talents and patience and hard-earned degrees and apply our education to the betterment of others. We pride ourselves on having it all together. We fancy ourselves the shepherds. We are told that this is noble and upstanding work, and a benefit to society. But it's all a pile of shit. We're no different from them. There's no line in the sand. In the end, we don't have canyons that divide us. We barely have a fissure. I have a key and an office and they don't. I came here to save them; they can't save me. But sometimes, the lines get blurred. People say: "if you can't do, teach." Well, if you can't save yourself, save someone else.



October 19th, 11:12 A.M.

There is a new patient starting this week. No one wants to work with him. His file is nearly empty, and the rumors churning among the staff have been filling in the blanks with horror stories and nonsense. (He murdered his last counselor; he refuses to do paperwork; he'll be a nightmare patient.) Even I don't want to work with him, and I'm the one who takes all the patients no one wants. No one really knows what he's all about; what's true, what's a rumor. He has one of those charts where nothing is clear. He obviously hadn't answered the questions during the psychosocial evaluations. Most of what was written was garnered from his physical appearance and intake materials. He was definitely in prison; those records are clear. For twenty-some years, although somehow the charges aren't written in his file. Then halfway houses for years after prison. And now he's mandated to treatment as a condition of his probation.

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Excerpted from The Blind by Alex Brady. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Brady. Excerpted by permission of Park Row Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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